Family, both on and off the court, played a big role in Derrick Walker choosing Nebraska to continue his basketball career.
The Huskers added another piece to their front court when Walker, a 6-foot-8 Tennessee transfer, announced on social media Wednesday afternoon he would play for Nebraska.
Walker, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, quietly visited Lincoln last week before committing to the Huskers. He will sit out next season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
"They're family-oriented. They're allowing me room to grow and develop," Walker said Wednesday, citing NU's proximity to his home city as one of his top reasons for choosing NU. "It's hard being away from home where your family can barely see you and you can't just get on the road and go home or hop on a flight to go home.
"With as little break as we get, that family time is valuable for me."
Walker appeared in 30 games for Tennessee in 2018-19, averaging 5.3 minutes per game and shooting 52.6 percent from the floor as Tennessee advanced to the Sweet 16.
As a freshman, he averaged 8.8 minutes and 2.2 points per game. In his two years in Knoxville, Walker shot nearly 58 percent from the field.
"I learned a lot from the SEC and from Tennessee," Walker said. "Of course, it's a different style of basketball in the SEC than it is in the Big Ten, but I'll be able to adjust and use some of the things I learned from the SEC in the Big Ten."
Coming out of prep school at Sunrise Christian Academy in 2017, Walker chose Tennessee over St. John's, where current Nebraska assistant Matt Abdelmassih tried to recruit him to New York. That relationship helped Nebraska get a foot in the door when Walker decided to enter the transfer portal.
"That means a lot to me, for (Abdelmassih) to follow me for two years, and I didn't go to the school that he recruited me to at first," Walker said. "But it just means that he cares about me as a person and just wants the best for me."
Walker also figures to be a valuable resource for Nebraska's rebuilt front court. With Nebraska signing a pair of forwards who will be true freshmen next season, and Isaiah Roby's status currently up in the air as he decides between the NBA and returning to school, Walker's experience in a power conference program could be a boon for NU's younger players.
"I'm a very vocal leader," Walker said. "I love to defend and rebound at a high level. I'm very versatile — I can pass, I can see the court, I can run the court, and I think I'm a very quick learner when it comes to the game. I can be a junkyard dog and bring that mentality to the game."
Coming out of high school, Walker reclassified from 2016 to 2017 to spend a year at Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas. Following that year, 247Sports rated Walker as the No. 3 prospect coming out of Missouri.
Walker gives Nebraska its third front court commit in the last four days. Yvan Ouedraogo committed Sunday, and Kevin Cross announced his commitment Monday night.
“Derrick is a physical player who gives us skill and versatility in the post,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said in a news release. “He has played in big games over the last two years, and his experience will be an asset for us with so many newcomers on the roster.”
A look at the Nebraska basketball scholarship chart
|Isaiah Roby (SR)||Thorir Thorbjarnarson||Cam Mack||Dalano Banton||Donovan Williams|
|Haanif Cheatham (SR)||Jervay Green||Shamiel Steveson||Akol Arop||D'Andre Davis|
|Matej Kavas (SR)||Dachon Burke||Dalano Banton||Yvan Ouedraogo|
|Dachon Burke (JR)||Cam Mack||Akol Arop||Kevin Cross|
|Thorir Thorbjarnarson (JR)||Dalano Banton||Yvan Ouedraogo||Donovan Williams|
|Jervay Green (JR)||Shamiel Stevenson||Kevin Cross||D'Andre Davis|
|Cam Mack (SO)||Akol Arop||Donovan Williams||Charlie Easley|
|Dalano Banton (RS)||Yvan Ouedraogo||D'Andre Davis||Jace Piatkowski|
|Shamiel Stevenson (SO)||Kevin Cross||Charlie Easley||Samari Curtis|
|Akol Arop (FR)||Donovan Williams (FR)||Jace Piatkowski|
|Yvan Ouedraogo (FR)||D'Andre Davis (FR)||Derrick Walker|
|Kevin Cross (FR)||Charlie Easley||Samari Curtis|
|Charlie Easley (Walk-on)||Jace Piatowski|
|Jace Piatkowski (Walk-on)||Derrick Walker|
|Derrick Walker (RS)||Samari Curtis|
|Samari Curtis (FR)|